Ponte Vecchio Bridge

History of Ponte Vecchio: Italy’s Gold Hub in Florence

You must have heard about the London Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, Golden gate bridge, etc. There is another famous bridge in Florence, Italy Ponte Vecchio. Also termed as the Golden Bridge the closed-spandrel, arch bridge on the Arno river, is a famous tourist destination. After the destruction of the previous bridges due to floods, a stronger, flood-resistant bridge was reconstructed in 1345. However, if you wish to buy gold jewelry, Ponte would be the right place. There are a lot of medieval-style gold jewelry shops along the two sides of the bridge. 

Ponte Vecchio

Florence and Ponte Vecchio

The Golden Bridge or Ponte Vecchio is a famous destination in Firenze. The Italians name it Florence. Every year about 13 million footfall of tourists is noted. Not only tourism but also rubber, leather, furniture, and a whole range of finished food contribute to the economy of Florence. The “renaissance cradle” i.e. the Arno river is the main lifeline of Florence. It is a hub of rich heritage. Besides Ponte Vecchio, the world-famous painting of Monalisa originated in Florence. Famous personalities like Raphael, Michelangelo, Dante, Galileo, etc have roots in Florence.

River Arno And Ponte Vecchio

The rivers Pesa, Sieve, Era, and Elsa have combined to form the river Arno or Fume Arno. The river covers a distance of 240kms from its source in Tuscany up to the Ligurian Sea. With the contribution of Micheal Angelo to the flood relief system and restoration of civilizations, the Arno river has gained an immense reputation. The flash floods of 1966 created much havoc not only in Florence but Ponte Vecchio as well. The confluence of the river with the sea can be observed just beyond Florence.

Earlier days of Ponte Vecchio

After many years of transformation today, the bridge has gathered immense popularity. In earlier days the bridge was a stinky place. It’s because it was the wastages of butchers and tannery men that got dumped into the river. During that time it was allowed. Till the grand duke Ferdinand I in 1593, overruled the old fishery, butcher, and tannery culture of making the space dirty. Instead, he welcomes the jewelers and goldsmiths to overtake the butchers and leather manufacturers.

Tourist Attraction About Ponte Vecchio

Besides window shopping, the medieval age jewelry shops lined two sides of the street. The visitors can find entertainers too. Some musicians might be playing music, some painters might be drawing portraits, eateries, souvenir shops, etc. can attract tourists at large. The bridge remains busy all day long. You can stop at any of the restaurants to try Italian food. 


Notably, the bridge Ponte Vecchio is 276 feet long. Besides, it is 105 feet wide. Moreover, three segmental arches are there. Because of the goldsmiths and glittering jewelry shops, Ponte Vecchio has been assigned the “Golden Bridge” nickname. Further historical facts for you

  • The bridge you can see today is not the original. In 996 AD the first bridge was constructed by Romans. But as a result of floods first in 1117 and second in 1333, the bridge got destroyed. The menace of floods continued over years. 
  • In 1218, the wooden bridge made earlier was replaced with stones. Only the middle structures remained in the floods. However, in the 1350s, the fifth new bridge was constructed with jewelry shops on both sides.
  • The new bridge was built across the narrowest portion of the Arno river flowing through the city. It was used as a corridor by the Medici family for connecting Palazzo Pitti and Ponte Vecchio to their residence.
  • But the historians are not sure exactly who created the bridge. Whether Taddeo Gaddi, Giovani de Campo, Dominican Friar was an innovator of the bridge.

The Ancient Sundial at Ponte Vecchio

The Florentines used traditional sundials to predict time. Tourists may overlook it, but there is a lizard-like structure on a white pillar. In the absence of formal clocks during that period the sundials would help. The lizard is small to catch eyes if not watched closely and you know its existence

Ponte Vecchio

World War II and Ponte Vecchio

The bridge Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge in Florence that survived World War II. The other bridges along with houses in Ponte Vecchio were rumbled to pieces. But why was it so? As per legends Adolf Hitler’s love for the bridge He visited the bridge in 1939 and was mesmerized by the view of Florence skyline. Along with other German colonels, they agreed to keep the bridge untouched. 

Moreover, the main credit goes to Gerard Wolf. He was identified as an honorary citizen in 1955. In his honor, a marble plaque was dedicated in Ponte Vecchio in 2007.

Harmonics and Ponte Vecchio in 1966 Floods

During the flood in 1996, the river Arno became very turbulent. The attendants of a museum were worried that the valuable pictures might get destroyed. To safeguard they formed a human chain. Later it was revealed that the humming bridge showed utmost flexibility to withstand the vibrations of the flood. This proved the brilliance of the construction of the bridge and its resistance to calamities.

Several Business Terms and Ponte Vecchio

The words like bankrupt and architecture were born in Ponte Vecchio. Moreover, Benvenuto Cellini the famous craftsman of the 4th century who designed the bridge structure and arches gave rise to the word Architecture. In 1900 a bust of Cellini was created at the center of the bridge by Raffaelo Romanelli to mark lovers.

Lockers of Love in Ponte Vecchio

All over Italy, the bridges are characterized by Padlocks. Lovers used to put a small love lock where the Cellini bust and fountain are found today. With a vision to have an eternal love life, the keys were dropped into the river Arno. Moreover, Cellini was a sculptor as well as a nature lover. The present situation is such that the government has removed most of the locks and banned the practice and levied heavy fines.

River Arno And Ponte Vecchio

There was a risk for invaders to approach from the waterway i.e. river Arno. Even though fortified strategically, four towers were built to keep an eye on waterway activity. Only the Mannelli tower survived, Further the Manali bridge was strategically built to the south part of Florence. Moreover, it belonged to the Medici family. The beauty of the river has become a tourist attraction to sail small boats. It was the brainchild of Renalis. 

Regaining funding From Ponte Vecchio

Now the bridge has transformed into an important tourist destination. The earlier tenants of dirty butchers, fishermen and leather makers have been replaced with goldsmiths and souvenir shops and restaurants who pay rents for their shops. This amount of money is paid off for expenses incurred during the building of the bridge.

Shopping at Ponte Vecchio

In recent times Ponte Vecchio has become of the glittering shops. Besides the hand-made jewelry like necklaces, earrings, rings, bracelets, etc. Ponte Vecchio houses renowned art galleries and souvenir shops. The souvenirs are excellent gifts for your friends back home. You can buy them for personal use also. Moreover, if you are at the bridge, a must-visit for the corner shop Fratelli Piccini is required. The shop has been in business since 1900, run by a single-family. The guides can tell you how to reach or else ask the locals for help.

The bridge is walkable, throughout the day tourists roam about the bridge. The whole day’s bridge remains crowded. The shops at Ponte Vecchio start at 10 AM and remain open till 7 PM throughout the week except for Sundays. However, if you want less crowd on the bridge morning 8.30 AM would be perfect. Similarly after 9 PM the night. 

Tips For Visitors Of Ponte Vecchio

To avoid unprecedented troubles, try the following tips:

  • Take care of your belongings. In a crowded place risk of pickpocket is there
  • The area can be visited by walking. Hence, you are suggested to avoid bikes. The area is easily walkable and you can visualize the serenity of the place with ease.
  • In photographs, if you want less crowd to follow proper timing before opening and closing of shops
  • Being a favored tourist spot the shop vendors might charge you heftily. You are suggested to bargain for price till you arrive at a win-win situation.

Best Time to Visit Ponte Vecchio

Try between May to October months which would be the best time to visit. The bridge being a public place remains open all the time. If shopping is not your intent, rather enjoying the scenic beauty and photography is your preference early morning or late evening when you would encounter fewer people.

However, if you have a motive for shopping, you can visit between 10 AM and 7 PM while the shops remain open. Don’t ignore the bargaining part. Or you might be at loss. 

Shopping Ideas On Ponte Vecchio

Shopping for gold ornaments mostly attracts visitors. Besides souvenirs of the place gained popularity, Carrying a memento back home has been a long-lived habit of travelers. Some ideas:

  • The Potteries from Montelupo belong to the middle ages
  • GABs leather bags
  • The leather gloves
  • Bright golden jewelry, the specialty of the place.
  • Shoes from Barmer
  • Scented soaps, like Florence, is well known for their natural aroma
  • Red Beer, wine, and chocolates
Ponte Vecchio Bridge

Reaching Ponte Vecchio

The nearest bus stations to Ponte Vecchio are Palazolo, Melegnano, Penta Vepucci, etc can be reached by bus routed #365A, #23 i.e ATAF buses. From Santa Maria Rly. Stn. They are well connected by bus routes that reach you up to Ponte Vecchio at 6 Euro up and 10 Euro down fares. Shuttle buses are available.  

By Train

You can use the R-line 

By Light Trains

Try out train lines T1 and T2

By Walk

The city of Florence can be covered in 30 mins by walking. You can reach Ponte Vecchio by walking also.

By Taxi

Ponte Vecchio can be reached by taxi also. They charge you 20 euros from the airport. Either cash or your credit card might be used. 

Some Essential Information

The bridge is located in Florence Italy. It is 11kms away from the Florence Airport FLR. You can reach it by bus taxi or rail. It remains open throughout the week. There are no entry tickets for visitors. Just visit whenever you like.

Places Near Ponte Vecchio Not to Miss

The nearby attractions that you cannot miss. They are nearby and desirable locations for you

  • The art gallery called Uffizi, a collection mostly bo Medici family
  • You need to visit Loggia Dei Lanzi built in the 14th century. It houses the statue of Persues after killing Medusa
  • For costlier buy for jewelry or cloth. Buying t-shirts or souvenirs, the Mercato Nuovo would be perfect
  • If you are looking for coffee shops, roadside cafes owned by the Uberti family can be sighted at Piazza del Signoria
  • The attractive fort type buildings built in the 14th century can be seen at Palazzo Vecchio
  • You can also visit a church with a museum upstairs which originally was a grain market. The church is named Orsanmichel.
  • The works of Michelangelo can be found at Bargello National Museum. It is a must-see destination.
  • If green is wanted, the Bardini Garden can be visited. Along with beautiful stairways, visitors can also see fountains apart from greenery. 
  • If you are fond of museums, visit Palazzo Pitti, a huge castle in Oltrarno. The palace houses many museums. There you can see the Palatine Gallery, a treasury of grand Dukes, Museum of the garment, costume as well as fashion. Furthermore Modern Art Gallery.

Food Options Near Ponte Vecchio

Relish the taste of Italian food while visiting the alleys of Ponte Vecchio. Original Italian foods contain multivarious taste and flavor. For instance smoked eggs from Bottarga, pasta, lasagna, or maybe margarita from Naples, options are plenty. While visiting the Uffizi Gallery bit off from Ponte Vecchio, a street-side pizzeria is there. If you’re hungry, grab small Mangia Pizza from there. What the Italians have to offer is quite reasonably priced. Hence, you won’t face problems on the fooding part. 

Ponte Vecchio Bridge

Synchronization With Anthropology

The bridge Ponte Vecchio is a well-known representation of aesthetic and engineering knowledge of older age. The patient and reviving strategies of building and rebuilding the bridge are noteworthy. It is quite surprising to realize how it survived World War II, though the rest of the city got affected. The beauty of using arches and their strength to withstand natural disasters are brilliant structural strategies that have added to the excellence. Even Adolf Hitler admired the beauty of the bridge. At one point in time, it was a favorite destination when locks were used to make lover’s bondage eternal. However, the Government banned the process.

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